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Celebrating Evangelical Unity

April 07, 2014

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer

Two Columbia International University alumni who pastor two Columbia area churches were featured as CIU celebrated its annual Evangelical Unity Week March 31-April 3. Evangelical Unity is a core value of CIU.

The week began with a message from David Gentino, who earned a Master of Divinity degree from CIU in 2010. He serves as pastor of Columbia Presbyterian Church. His message focused on the Christian’s need to be engaged in a local church.

“We’re talking about loving, engaging, and participating in the local church,” Gentino said. “It’s a challenge, because the church has issues, and we who are joining the church have issues.”

Tuesday brought Prayer Day, which featured a series of messages titled “Why I Love the Church.” The morning session began with a Jeff Philpott, pastor of Sandhills Community Church. Philpott earned a Master of Divinity degree from CIU in 1997 and a Doctor of Ministry in 2007. He spoke on the Church as Christ’s bride.

“Marriage has taught me that Christ loves His bride, and more than I could ever love my own bride,” he said. 

The day continued with messages from Gentino, as well as CIU faculty members Shirl Schiffman and David Cashin, who spoke on the necessity of the local church in accomplishing God’s purposes.

Students were also given a time of confession before God and each other. They were invited to send anonymous text messages asking for prayer, which would appear on a projector. Some requests were general - “Pray we go and share the gospel despite our fears” - while others were personal.

“I liked that CIU tried the text messaging version, because people were more willing to be vulnerable when it was anonymous,” sophomore Lindsay Emo said. “So many people responded, and they were willing to go deep.”

Following Prayer Day, Philpott continued teaching during Wednesday’s chapel, speaking on the church as God’s channel for redeeming the nations. Since the church is God’s means of reaching a lost world, he said, Christians should be unified in purpose.

“God only has one church, one people, saved by grace alone through faith alone,” Philpot said.

The week concluded with Chapel on Thursday, featuring Gentino, Philpott, Schiffman, and Cashin, as well as faculty member Roy King. Students were invited to submit questions to the panel regarding the local church. Questions ranged from the how the church should engage in a postmodern culture, and whether CIU students should be involved in a Columbia-area church while at CIU. 

“The deep conviction of my life should be, ‘I am here to serve Christ, and in order to do that, I must be an integral member of His body,’” Cashin said.

Hear the Chapel messages from Evangelical Unity Week at: http://podcast.ciu.edu/